School of Biological Sciences - Implementation Plan 2006-2011

Coordinated by Michael Williams & Associates Pty Ltd

Implementation Plan

The following tables set out how the School will implement its strategic plan. Against each strategy is listed a series of actions. Some of these actions describe ways in which the School will conduct itself (e.g. "Nurture, support and mentor new appointments within an inclusive, enthusiastic and stimulating academic and social environment"), others set out specific tasks (e.g. "Set up a Distinguished Visiting Professorship scheme"), while yet others involve devising a plan for addressing a particular problem (e.g. "Develop a research support policy that provides the necessary infrastructure to facilitate high quality research").

Those responsible for implementing each action are listed, along with a timescale for implementation of actions. In many cases, one of the School’s main committees is identified as being responsible for implementing an action. The next stage in implementation will be for each committee to develop a detailed plan for achieving the actions for which it has responsibility. Where an individual post-holder is identified as being responsible, he or she will develop an action plan in discussion with the Head of School. The School’s Advisory Committee will review all action plans.


Research and Innovation

Research Identity

Outcome
The School will have achieved an international reputation as a leading centre for biological research in an organismal, ecological and evolutionary context.

The School will have established and enhanced links with strengths elsewhere in the University, particularly environmental, agricultural, molecular, medical, and mathematical sciences (see Outreach and Links).

Strategies Actions Responsibility When
1) Make good appointments.

a) Appointments will be made with reference to the research strengths of the School.

b) The School will remain responsive to opportunities for appointments, notably seeking and encouraging suitable applications for local, national and international fellowship schemes.

c) Research excellence will be the main appointment criterion within the strategic focus.

d) Attract the best people possible, whatever the level of appointment - the cleverest, most original thinkers. Seek out the best people rather than hope they will apply. If there are no outstanding applicants for a position, do not appoint someone less promising.

a) Head of School, School Planning Group

b) Head of School, Research Committee, Academic staff

c) Selection committees

d) Selection committees

a) Before advertising, when appointing

b) On-going

c) When appointing

d) When appointing

2) Manage performance in research.

a) Nurture, support and mentor new appointments within an inclusive, enthusiastic and stimulating academic and social environment.

b) Encourage and foster collaborations between academics within and between institutions.

c) Protect staff from unnecessary administration and teaching - and resist their imposition where necessary - but require good citizenship and provide relevant, non-burdensome training in academic management, e.g., through committee work.

d) Make efforts to retain the most successful staff, but do not be afraid to lose some - it is to their individual benefit to experience life elsewhere, and spreads the School's sphere of influence. However, maintain strong links and be ready to attract the most successful back again at a later stage in their career.

e) Use the University's Performance Management and Development review system to the full in managing underperformance in research.

f) Ensure that the School has a research support system that provides the necessary infrastructure to facilitate high quality research.

a) Head of School, PM&D Reviewer, Mentors, Research Groups

b) Academic staff, Research Groups

c) Head of School, Teaching Committee, School Office

d) Academic staff, Research Groups

e) PM&D Reviewer, Head of School, Dean of Science

f) Research Committee

a) On-going

b) On-going

c) On-going

d) On-going

e) Annually

f) Annually

3) Raise the international profile of the School.

a) Encourage attendance by academic staff, graduates and post-doctoral students at international conferences and providing travel funds for this purpose.

b) Encourage establishment of international collaborations, in part by encouraging periods of Special Studies Program (sabbatical) leave for the School's academic staff.

c) Attract overseas applicants for prestigious fellowships to be held in the School (e.g. Federation Fellowships).

d) Invite overseas scientists to spend sabbatical leave in the School, and provide assistance and backup support for them.

e) Set up a Distinguished Visiting Professorship scheme, as exists in United States universities.

a) Research Groups, PM&D Reviewer

b) Research Groups, PM&D Reviewer

c) Head of School, Research Committee

d) Academic staff, Research Groups

e) Alumni Committee, Head of School

a) On-going

b) On-going

c) On-going

d) On-going

e) By 2007

4) Train and mentor junior staff.

a) Recruit more, high quality postgraduate research students.

b) Encourage and assist postdoctoral fellowship applications.

c) Actively mentor and incorporate new staff, postdoctoral staff and postgraduate students within Research groups.

a) Postgraduate Committee, Academic staff

b) Research Groups, Research Committee, Academic staff

c) Research Groups

a) On-going

b) On-going

c) On-going


Learning and Teaching

Effective Research-Led Quality Teaching

Outcomes
The School will have provided a quality learning experience at all levels of teaching.

The School will have developed criteria for assessing teaching quality, and have implemented procedures for assessing performance against those criteria.

The School will have reviewed and where appropriate rationalised Units of Study to reduce the overall teaching load, and increase the amount of time available for research. In doing so, it will have increased research performance, which will be monitored through the University's Performance Management and Development (PM&D) process.

Strategies Actions Responsibility When
1) Make good appointments.

a) Appointments will be made with reference to the research strengths of the School, and appointees will be expected to maintain active research.

b) Appointees must demonstrate strong oral and written communication abilities likely to appeal to undergraduate students.

a) Head of School, School Planning Group

b) Selection Committee

a) Before advertising, when appointing

b) When appointing

2) Manage performance in teaching and learning.

a) Develop an effective mentoring system for new staff.

b) Reduce teaching loads by reducing the number of Units offered. The target should be about 125 hours per year with staff teaching more hours in fewer Units of Study (e.g., one senior and one intermediate or junior).

c) Encourage and provide opportunities for academic staff to undertake a Graduate Certificate in University Teaching (or other means to ensure that staff understand the theory of pedagogy).

d) Introduce standard centrally administered mechanisms to monitor performance in teaching and learning (e.g., Student-Staff Liaison Committee reports, course/teacher evaluation/benchmarking).

a) Teaching Committee

b) Teaching Committee

c) Teaching Committee, Head of School, PM&D Reviewer

d) Teaching Committee

a) June 2007

b) January 2007

c) On-going

d) June 2007

3) Provide administrative and technical support to teachers.

a) Protect academic staff from unnecessary administration by reducing administrative requirements and fully utilizing general staff for administrative tasks.

a) Teaching Committee

a) On-going

4) Review all teaching undertaken by the School with the view to reducing the numbers of Units of Study offered, and reduce teaching and assessment loads.

a) Develop criteria to assess viability of Units of Study.

b) Amalgamate or discontinue non-viable Units, and withdraw non-justifiable School contributions to external teaching programs.

c) Develop guidelines for the appropriate workload for Units of Study including amount and type of assessment and contact hours.

a) Teaching Committee

b) Teaching Committee

c) Teaching Committee, Unit Executive Officers

a) January 2007

b) 2007

c) June 2007

5) Increase student responsibility for learning.

a) Encourage Unit Executive Officers to stimulate student-centred learning.

b) Emphasise research-led teaching throughout the curriculum.

c) Review the core competencies expected at each level.

a) Teaching Committee, Unit Executive Officers

b) Teaching Committee

c) Teaching Committee

a) January 2008

b) On-going

c) January 2008


Student Experience

Outcome
The School will have ensured that students receive a high quality experience during their degrees, both academically and socially.

Strategies Actions Responsibility When
1) Ensure positive academic and social interactions.

a) Develop a system to advise junior undergraduates on future directions of study, and jobs/research.

b) Raise profile of students within the school, by providing a forum in Schools' Newsletter for the Biological Society and for general student comments, articles and news stories.

c) Continue to facilitate social/intellectual activities, e.g., Pearl Beach Warrah weekend and discussion groups.

d) Encourage high quality supervision, by introducing an annual prize for "highly appreciated supervisor", with nominations taken from students, by recommending (i) regular lab meetings & Research Group meetings involving students and (ii) supervisors get own feedback from students during and at end of candidature.

e) Invite Alumni to give seminars to undergraduate, honours and post-graduate students and provide opportunities for work experience.

a) Undergraduate Year Co-ordinators

b) Science communicator Honours Committee, Post-graduate Studies Committee

c) Honours Committee, Post-graduate Studies Committee

d) Honours Committee, Postgraduate Studies Committee

e) Alumni Committee

a) Start Semester 1 2007

b) October 2006

c) On-going

d) Start October 2006

e) 2007

2) Provide excellent academic and logistical support.

a) Maintain regular undergraduate feedback for units with formal Institute of Learning and Teaching surveys and School student feedback surveys

b) Maintain Honours exit survey and provide exit surveys for 3rd Year and post-graduate students, to assess current and future initiatives. Ensure information from this feedback is taken into account in School planning and is cycled back to students via student representatives.

c) Continue with annual post-graduate interviews with the Post-graduate Committee.

d) Review and revise support available to honours and post-graduate students. Aim for one computer per student. Ensure plans in place to update support as required.

f) Provide sufficient space, funds, intellectual, mentoring, and social support to honours and post-graduate students to enable training and research to be performed efficiently and effectively.

a) Unit Executive Officers, Student-Staff Liaison Committee

b) 3rd Year Co-ordinator, Honours Committee, Post-graduate Studies Committee

c) Post-graduate Studies Committee

d) Honours Committee, Post-graduate Studies Committee

f) Honours Committee, Post-graduate Studies Committee, Maintenance Group

a) On-going

b) 3rd Year: October Honours: May/Nov Post-graduate: on-going

c) Bi-annually

d) Biennially, start Jan 2007

f) On-going

3) Maintain or recruit consistently high numbers of undergraduate, honours and post-graduate students.

a) Actively recruit students from outside the University.

b) Set up and maintain a School procedure to actively recruit high quality undergraduates from other universities to the post-graduate program.

c) Keep School website up-to-date; encourage and continue to assist academic staff to up-date websites annually.

a) Honours Committee, Post-graduate Studies Committee

b) Honours Committee, Post-graduate Studies Committee

c) Webmaster, Academic Staff

a) Start November 2007

b) Start November 2007

c) On-going

4) Encourage timely, high quality research and publication by post-graduate students.

a) Recognise and reward research excellence (e.g., continue with post-graduate Excellence Prize and initiate prize for best post-graduate student final seminar).

b) Provide incentives for publishing (e.g., funding for research or conference for accepted manuscript).

a) Post-graduate Studies Committee

b) Research Groups, Post-graduate supervisors

a) On-going

b) On-going


Community Engagement and Outreach

Collegiate Community

Outcome
The School will have developed a collegiate community with a unified identity characterised by good communication, mutual respect and consideration of other members of the School, transparent decision-making processes and effective support for new staff.

Strategies Actions Responsibility When
1) Work towards one building within a "life sciences" precinct.

See Infrastructure Services and Management

 

 

2) Encourage social interaction, team building, respect and consideration.

a) Appoint a small social committee (an academic, a member of general staff and research student) with a budget to co-ordinate activities.

b) Introduce a series of school morning teas hosted by different groups within the school.

c) Recognise individual achievements as contributing to generic School achievements.

a) Head of School

b) Social Committee

c) Head of School

a) October 2006

b) Start November 2006

c) Start October 2006

3) Enhance communication.

a) Committee chairs to provide informal reports at Head of School morning teas.

b) Technical staff team members and academic teaching teams meet in good time before each unit of study to discuss plans and expectations.

a) Research Committee, Teaching Committee, Social Committee

b) Unit Executive Officers, Technical Staff Team Leaders

a) Start October 2006

b) Start January 2007

4) Facilitate collegiate input into decision-making.

a) Review frequency and format of School Board meetings.

b) Hold an Annual Reflective Retreat to consider previous year's performance and clarify future plans (see Learning and Teaching).

a) Head of School

b) Head of School

a) Start October 2006

b) November 2007

5) Enhance the research environment and support new staff.

See Research Identity. Also:
a) Ensure space and computer are ready for new staff on arrival.

b) Regularly revise package of material for new staff.

c) Review and revise start-up funds for new staff.

d) Continue to appoint senior staff as formal mentors for new staff.

a) Head of School, Manager Buildings and Infrastructure

b) School Office Staff

c) Head of School, Research Committee

d) Head of School

a) On-going

b) Annually

c) Annually

d) On-going

Outreach and links

Outcome
The School will have enhanced its outreach, media and industry engagement with a combination of new initiatives and further development and streamlining of some established programs so that it is widely seen as the most exciting biology School in Australia – the first choice in Australia for University enrolment, media contact or industry engagement.

Strategies Actions Responsibility When
1) Enhance outreach through the School's Science Communicator.

a) Provide lecture and laboratory venues as required throughout the year, including during university terms.

b) Provide necessary support staff for workshops and laboratory classes.

c) Encourage involvement of undergraduate and post-graduate students in outreach activities.

d) Engage academic staff in high quality outreach activities with reference to the School's annual work loads data (Loads Document).

a) Science Communicator, Manager Teaching and Research Support

b) Science Communicator, Manager Teaching and Research Support

c) Science Communicator

d) Science Communicator, Teaching Committee, Head of School

a) As needed

b) As needed

c) On-going

d) Annually, on-going

2) Seek efficiencies in outreach activities.

a) Seek opportunities for joint courses.

b) Encourage and reward establishing productive research links through infrastructure support allocation, major equipment successes, successes in securing studentships, etc.

a) Teaching Committee

b) Research Committee, Research Groups

a) On-going

b) On-going

3) Encourage and reward submission of ARC Linkage Grants and research contracts.

a) Actively promote Linkage and other grants to support the School outreach activities and scholarships for the development of special programs (e.g. field work programs).

a) Science Communicator, Research Committee

a) On-going

4) Encourage and reward appointment to government bodies.

a) Actively seek opportunities for positions on government bodies.

b) Nominate members of School for positions as they arise.

a) Academic staff, Research Committee, Teaching Committee

b) Head of School

a) On-going

b) On-going

5) Encourage interactions with other Australian and international academic institutions.

a) Encourage members of staff to attend and organise conferences.

b) Encourage members of staff to take Special Studies Program (sabbatical) Leave when it is due.

c) Encourage colleagues from other universities to take their sabbatical leave in the School.

a) PM&D Reviewers, Research Groups, Research Committee

b) PM&D Reviewers

c) Academic staff

a) On-going

b) On-going

c) On-going

6) Maximise publicity.

a) Use website to promote successes.

b) Establish good relations with and inform the University of Sydney's Media Office, Australian and international journalists of research successes.

a) Webmaster and academic staff

b) Science Communicator

a) On-going

b) On-going

7) Enhance alumni engagement.

a) Establish a database of ex-students.

b) Consider establishing a Friends of the School Society.

c) Encourage Alumni to be involved in the School's business, Science Alliance events and high school liaison activities.

d) Send the Newsletter to alumni in collaboration with the Office of University Relations.

a) Alumni Committee

b) Alumni Committee

c) Alumni Committee

d) Science Communicator

a) January 2007

b) January 2007

c) On-going

d) June 2007


Infrastructure and Services

Human resource management

Outcomes
All staff will be working at a highly professional and productive level as assessed through the University’s Performance Management and Development (PM&D) process.

The School will have identified and used all opportunities available to support staff and their development.

Strategies Actions Responsibility When
1) Use the University's PM&D process to maximise staff development opportunities.

a) Review the School's Key Performance Indicators and Objectives to take into account changes in work practices (e.g., if there is a shift in teaching loads, expectations for research output will need to be adjusted accordingly).

b) Rigorously apply PM&D to assist members of staff to develop or enhance their productivity.

c) Ensure that full advantage is made of, and gained from, Special Studies Program (sabbatical) Leave and other career development opportunities as they arise.

a) Head of School, PM&D reviewers

b) Head of School, PM&D reviewers

c) Special Studies Program Leave Committee, PM&D Reviewers

a) Annually

b) Annually

c) Twice per year

2) Reward excellent performance.

a) Nominate members of the School for professional awards at every possible opportunity.

a) Head of School

a) On-going

3) Enhance the current system of formal and informal mentoring of all staff.

a) Nominate and identify mentors.

a) Head of School (on appointment), Chairs of Research Groups, PM&D reviewers.

a) At appointment

Physical location

Outcome
The School will have been consolidated into a single building with a flexible, yet functional, design and sited to enhance collaboration with other Schools and Departments within the University.

Strategies Actions Responsibility When
1) Develop a "Life Sciences" precinct concept within the University with other key stakeholders and University management.

a) School to develop scope of design based on an assessment of needs.

b) Establish meeting with Deputy Vice Chancellors, Chief Financial Officer, Head of School and Dean of Science.

a) Head of School, Research and Teaching Committees, Manager Buildings & Infrastructure, Manager Teaching & Research Support

b) Head of School

a) Scope of design developed by November 2006, designed, costed and funded by 2010

b) Meeting held by end of December 2006

2) Generate support from senior executives in the University for the "Life Sciences" precinct and for the School to vacate existing buildings.

a) Established support and solicit letters from Heads of the appropriate Schools, Faculties, Boards and Departments.

a) Head of School

a) Letters of support received by January 2007

3) Embed "Life Sciences" precinct into the University's Capital Development Plan.

a) Meet with Deputy Vice Chancellor (Infrastructure), Executive Dean of Science, Dean of Agriculture, Chair of University Research Committee, Director of University Collections.

a) Head of School, School Planning Group

a) June 2007

Expansion in existing space

Outcome
Whilst aiming to consolidate the School into a single building in the longer term, the School will have developed and implemented a policy of shared functional research space to allow for expansion within the current footprint in the interim.

Strategies Actions Responsibility When
1) Benchmark space utilisation policies with other Group of Eight schools of biological sciences and other cognate disciplines.

a) Current space allocations in the School collated and compared to Group of Eight schools.

a) Head of School, Manager Buildings & Infrastructure, Manager Teaching & Research Support

a) Benchmarking completed by March 2007

2) Develop and implement a policy for allocation of space for current and future staff.

a) Policy development and implementation, including consultation with users.

a) Head of School, Manager Buildings & Infrastructure, Manager Teaching & Research Support, School Planning Group

a) Policy endorsed and implemented June 2007

Providing sustainable Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Research Infrastructure

Outcome
The School will have developed and implemented policies that will deliver sustainable ICT and research infrastructure to allow its academics to be internationally competitive. In addition, the School will ensure a high level of support for ICT and research infrastructure.

Strategies Actions Responsibility When
1) Invest in infrastructure that will streamline ICT services.

a) Cost and contract for installation of fibre optic link between A08 and A12.

b) Consolidate servers to minimum number possible.

c) Develop and implement "roaming profiles" to improve availability and support.

a) Manager Buildings & Infrastructure, IT support staff

b) Manager Teaching & Research Support, IT support staff

c) Head of School, Manager Teaching & Research Support, IT support staff

a) Installation completed and servers

b) Commissioned January 2007

c) Roaming profiles set up and in use from December 2007

2) Review utilization of ICT in teaching, and match ICT investment to teaching outcomes/objectives.

a) Undertake review of Information Communication Technology in teaching.

a) Teaching Committee, IT support staff

a) Review completed June 2007

3) Take advantage of opportunities to acquire new and emerging technologies.

a) Secure funding from University of Sydney, federal government and other appropriate infrastructure grants for acquisition of new and emerging technologies.

a) Teaching Committee, Research Committee, Head of School, IT support staff

a) As opportunities arise

4) Responsibility for maintenance and support of newly acquired equipment and technologies will lie with the research groups that requested them and will be managed through the equipment management scheme.

a) Development of equipment management scheme

a) Research Committee, Manager Teaching and Research Support, Head of School

a) Scheme developed and implemented June 2007

Administrative Efficiency

Outcome
The School will have harvested as much information as possible from existing sources, so that multiple requests for the same information from within the School are minimised, and develop systems for stream-lining the processing of requests from outside the School.

Strategies Actions Responsibility When
1) Make staff changes as needed to streamline administration.

a) Appoint School Manager from existing senior management staff, or appoint new position to enable Head of School to focus on policy and strategy.

b) Appoint intermediate and senior teaching administration coordinators from within existing teaching support staff to reduce teaching administration for academics - analogous position to First Year Biology Manager (Administrative Officer - FYB).

a) Head of School

b) Head of School, Teaching Committee

a) June 2007

b) January 2007

2) Streamline committee structures, compositions and meeting times.

a) Reduce meetings to 30-minute sessions, documentation to be circulated prior to meeting, meetings only to determine outcomes/decisions.

b) Do not exceed a predetermined maximum membership of committees.

c) Ensure that committee members have defined and fixed tenure on the committee.

d) Provide support for use of electronic management systems.

a) Committee Chairs

b) Committee Chairs

c) Committee Chairs, Academic staff

d) Relevant trained staff

a) January 2007

b) January 2007

c) January 2007

d) On-going

3) Utilise central services as much as possible.

a) Request central support for implementation of new systems.

a) IT support staff

a) On-going


Financial Performance

Generating funds for sustainability

Outcome
The School will be maintaining a positive income stream to sustain and enhance research and teaching programs. It will be doing so by maximising sources of income and diversifying its revenue base income from research grants, consultancies and contracts. The School will be maintaining salaries at 70% of income.

Strategies Actions Responsibility When
1) Respond to threats and opportunities in teaching.

a) Restructure poorly subscribed Units of Study.

b) Review the spread of the Schools teaching across the Faculty/University.

a) Teaching Committee

b) Teaching Committee

a) January 2007

b) January 2007

2) Increase the research grant base and Research Infrastructure Block Grant.

a) Develop and implement a schedule of annual workshops with Research Office, Director of Research Development and Research Groups.

b) Increase links with industry, and hence industry funding for research, and continue to strengthen cooperative ventures with outside organisations (greater efficiency of resources).

c) Work closely with Research Office and Director of Research Development annually on strategies, including ARC Linkage.

a) Research Committee, Head of School

b) Research Committee, Academic staff

c) Research Committee, Research Groups, Academic staff

a) November 2006

b) On-going

c) On-going

3) Increase the number of postgraduate research students.

a) Foster, promote and develop strong relationships with industry through outreach and alumni activities.

a) Teaching Committee, Research Committee, Academic staff

a) On-going

4) Provide appropriate levels of general staff support in all areas.

a) Review the number of support staff required in each area of the School periodically in response to shifting demands, so that the School can meet demands and avoid inefficiencies.

a) Teaching Committee

a) Annually

5) Develop outreach and alumni activities.

See Outreach and Links
a) Continue to support and develop the outreach activities of the Science Communicator

b) Establish strong links with the Office of University Relations

c) Develop a School Newsletter as an instrument of alumni relations

d) Capitalise on the School’s research facilities, e.g., Crommelin Field Station.

a) Head of School

b) Alumni Committee

c) Head of School, Science Communicator

d) Alumni Committee

a) On-going

b) January 2007

c) On-going

d) On-going